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Tony Cunningham, Ph.D.

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University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame,INBA05/2007Psychology/Pre-Professional Studies
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame,INMA05/2011Clinical Psychology
University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame,INPhD06/2017Clinical Psychology
VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare System, Leavenworth, KS07/2018Clinical Psychology
2010 - 2011
Alumni INC@ND Graduate Tuition Scholarship
First Time Attendee Trainee Travel Award
Department of Psychology’s Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award
Student Travel Award
Abstract Meritorious Award
Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts Founders and Directors 30th Anniversary Research Award
Dissertation Grant Award
The Sister Jean Lenz, O.S.F. Leadership Award
Department of Psychology’s Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award
K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award
Abstract Meritorious Award
Young Investigators Research Forum Scholarship

My primary research focus is understanding the role of sleep and sleep loss in emotion and memory processing, and how knowledge of these systems can be applied to clinical populations and the development of new therapeutic treatments. In choosing to pursue clinical training within cognitive neuroscience labs, my background has prepared me to carve a niche at the intersection between neuroscience and clinical practice. My goal is to understand changes in underlying brain networks responsible for emotional processing following sleep loss, and translate this knowledge into effective clinical interventions. By working towards becoming a licensed clinician, I also plan to take what I see in the sleep clinic, and use that information to generate further hypotheses for basic research.

A majority of my research has focused on the role that healthy sleep plays in the consolidation and retrieval of emotional information and its associated physiological affect. During graduate school, I explored the effects of sleep on psychophysiological reactivity to neutral and emotional memories. As a post-doc, I have pivoted to explore how acute sleep loss through total sleep deprivation affects the ability to perceive emotional stimuli and process memory for emotional content. Initial results indicate that encoding negative and neutral information while sleep deprived impairs all memory, but a period of recovery sleep can restore memory specifically for negative content such that hours later performance is better compared to just a 10-minute delay. Moving forward, I plan to apply this foundational information to clinical cohorts (insomnia, PTSD) by exploring the relationship between psychopathologically disrupted sleep and impaired emotional and cognitive functioning, as well as the association between improved sleep, cognitive, and emotional performance across clinical treatment.

Additionally, as an early response to the COVID-19 pandemic I launched a daily survey study on March 20, 2020 in collaboration with a lab at Boston College to determine the impact of COVID19 and many of the large-scale response measures that have taken affect across the globe on factors related to mental health and well-being, such as sleep, stress, and mood. I hope to not only reveal new information about potential risk and protective factors regarding contracting the disease, but also hope to better understand how pandemic culture impacts us as individuals and a society.

Featured Content

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
  1. Cunningham TJ. The Next Step in Understanding the Function of Dreams. Sleep. 2023 Jan 19. PMID: 36656722.
    Citations:    Fields:    
  2. Drummond SPA, Wiley JF, Boardman JM, Aidman E, Kensinger EA, Cunningham TJ. Trait-level cognitive and psychological factors associated with longitudinal resilience to sleep disturbance under chronic stress. Sleep. 2023 Jan 11; 46(1). PMID: 36242776; PMCID: PMC9832511.
    Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
  3. Ford JH, Fields EC, Garcia SM, Cunningham TJ, Kensinger EA. Perceived event resolution-rather than time-allows older adults to reduce the negativity of their memories. Memory. 2023 Jan 10; 1-7. PMID: 36625503.
    Citations:    Fields:    
  4. Bottary R, Fields EC, Ugheoke L, Denis D, Mullington JM, Cunningham TJ. Changes in Sleep Regularity and Perceived Life Stress across the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Longitudinal Analysis of a Predominately Female United States Convenience Sample. Clocks Sleep. 2022 Dec 26; 5(1):1-9. PMID: 36648940; PMCID: PMC9844449.
  5. Cunningham TJ, Fields EC, Denis D, Bottary R, Stickgold R, Kensinger EA. How the 2020 US Presidential election impacted sleep and its relationship to public mood and alcohol consumption. Sleep Health. 2022 Dec; 8(6):571-579. PMID: 36280586; PMCID: PMC9772219.
    Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
  6. Cunningham TJ, Kishore D, Guo M, Igue M, Malhotra A, Stickgold R, Djonlagic I. The Effect of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on Sleep-Dependent Emotional Memory Consolidation. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2022 Oct 17. PMID: 36250951.
    Citations:    Fields:    
  7. Daley RT, Cunningham TJ, Kensinger EA. Moral decision-making during the COVID-19 pandemic: Associations with age, negative affect, and negative memory. Front Psychol. 2022; 13:974933. PMID: 36248482; PMCID: PMC9563259.
  8. Cunningham TJ, Stickgold R, Kensinger EA. Investigating the effects of sleep and sleep loss on the different stages of episodic emotional memory: A narrative review and guide to the future. Front Behav Neurosci. 2022; 16:910317. PMID: 36105652; PMCID: PMC9466000.
  9. Cho I, Daley RT, Cunningham TJ, Kensinger EA, Gutchess A. Aging, Empathy, and Prosocial Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2022 04 01; 77(4):e57-e63. PMID: 34320179; PMCID: PMC8411378.
    Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:HumansPHPublic Health
  10. Fields EC, Kensinger EA, Garcia SM, Ford JH, Cunningham TJ. With age comes well-being: older age associated with lower stress, negative affect, and depression throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Aging Ment Health. 2022 10; 26(10):2071-2079. PMID: 34915781; PMCID: PMC9200900.
    Citations: 2     Fields:    
  11. Hall DL, Arditte Hall KA, Gorman MJ, Comander A, Goldstein MR, Cunningham TJ, Wieman S, Mizrach HR, Juhel BC, Li R, Markowitz A, Grandner M, Park ER. The Survivorship Sleep Program (SSP): A synchronous, virtual cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia pilot program among cancer survivors. Cancer. 2022 04 01; 128(7):1532-1544. PMID: 34914845; PMCID: PMC8917089.
    Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
  12. Denis D, Bottary R, Cunningham TJ, Zeng S, Daffre C, Oliver KL, Moore K, Gazecki S, Kram Mendelsohn A, Martinez U, Gannon K, Lasko NB, Pace-Schott EF. Sleep Power Spectral Density and Spindles in PTSD and Their Relationship to Symptom Severity. Front Psychiatry. 2021; 12:766647. PMID: 34867552; PMCID: PMC8640175.
  13. Bottary R, Fields EC, Kensinger EA, Cunningham TJ. Age and chronotype influenced sleep timing changes during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. J Sleep Res. 2022 04; 31(2):e13495. PMID: 34608693; PMCID: PMC8646670.
    Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansCellsPHPublic Health
  14. Ford JH, Garcia SM, Fields EC, Cunningham TJ, Kensinger EA. Older adults remember more positive aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychol Aging. 2021 Sep; 36(6):694-699. PMID: 34516173; PMCID: PMC8442960.
    Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansPHPublic Health
  15. Cunningham TJ, Bottary R, Denis D, Payne JD. Sleep spectral power correlates of prospective memory maintenance. Learn Mem. 2021 09; 28(9):291-299. PMID: 34400530; PMCID: PMC8372568.
    Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
  16. Cunningham TJ, Fields EC, Garcia SM, Kensinger EA. The relation between age and experienced stress, worry, affect, and depression during the spring 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Emotion. 2021 Dec; 21(8):1660-1670. PMID: 34138584.
    Citations: 7     Fields:    Translation:HumansCellsPHPublic Health
  17. Mullington JM, Cunningham TJ, Haack M, Yang H. Causes and Consequences of Chronic Sleep Deficiency and the Role of Orexin. Front Neurol Neurosci. 2021; 45:128-138. PMID: 34052807.
    Citations:    Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
  18. Cunningham TJ, Fields EC, Kensinger EA. Boston College daily sleep and well-being survey data during early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sci Data. 2021 04 16; 8(1):110. PMID: 33863920.
    Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansPHPublic Health
  19. Cunningham TJ, Mattingly SM, Tlatenchi A, Wirth MM, Alger SE, Kensinger EA, Payne JD. Higher post-encoding cortisol benefits the selective consolidation of emotional aspects of memory. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2021 04; 180:107411. PMID: 33609737; PMCID: PMC8076090.
    Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
  20. Rodriguez-Seijas C, Fields EC, Bottary R, Kark SM, Goldstein MR, Kensinger EA, Payne JD, Cunningham TJ. Comparing the Impact of COVID-19-Related Social Distancing on Mood and Psychiatric Indicators in Sexual and Gender Minority (SGM) and Non-SGM Individuals. Front Psychiatry. 2020; 11:590318. PMID: 33414732.
    Citations: 7     
  21. Bottary R, Simonelli G, Cunningham TJ, Kensinger EA, Mantua J. Sleep extension: an explanation for increased pandemic dream recall? Sleep. 2020 11 12; 43(11). PMID: 32886777.
    Citations: 6     Fields:    
  22. Bottary, R., Cunningham, T.J., Spencer, R., & Pace-Schott, E. Social Jetlag is Independently Associated with Chronotype and Poor Memory for Extinguished Fear. Experimental Results. 2020; E22(1). View Publication.
  23. Haar Horowitz A, Cunningham TJ, Maes P, Stickgold R. Dormio: A targeted dream incubation device. Conscious Cogn. 2020 08; 83:102938. PMID: 32480292.
    Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:Humans
  24. Cunningham TJ, Bowman MA. The darkest hours: McCarthy et al. (2019) report increased risk for suicide from midnight to 3 am for U.S. veterans and civilians. Sleep. 2020 02 13; 43(2). PMID: 31634911.
    Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
  25. Bolinger E, Cunningham TJ, Payne JD, Bowman MA, Bulca E, Born J, Zinke K. Sleep's benefits to emotional processing emerge in the long term. Cortex. 2019 11; 120:457-470. PMID: 31476555.
    Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:Humans
  26. Bowman MA, Cunningham TJ, Levin-Aspenson HF, O'Rear AE, Pauszek JR, Ellickson-Larew S, Martinez BS, Payne JD. Anxious, but not depressive, symptoms are associated with poorer prospective memory performance in healthy college students: Preliminary evidence using the tripartite model of anxiety and depression. J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2019 09; 41(7):694-703. PMID: 31084349.
    Citations: 2     Fields:    Translation:Humans
  27. Cunningham TJ, Leal SL, Yassa MA, Payne JD. Post-encoding stress enhances mnemonic discrimination of negative stimuli. Learn Mem. 2018 12; 25(12):611-619. PMID: 30442769; PMCID: PMC6239132.
    Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:Humans
  28. Pardilla-Delgado E, Alger SE, Cunningham TJ, Kinealy B, Payne JD. Effects of post-encoding stress on performance in the DRM false memory paradigm. Learn Mem. 2016 Jan; 23(1):46-50. PMID: 26670187; PMCID: PMC4749840.
    Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:Humans
  29. Alger SE, Chambers AM, Cunningham T, Payne JD. The role of sleep in human declarative memory consolidation. Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2015; 25:269-306. PMID: 25227928.
    Citations: 10     Fields:    Translation:Humans
  30. Cunningham TJ, Chambers AM, Payne JD. Prospection and emotional memory: how expectation affects emotional memory formation following sleep and wake. Front Psychol. 2014; 5:862. PMID: 25136328.
    Citations: 8     
  31. Cunningham TJ, Crowell CR, Alger SE, Kensinger EA, Villano MA, Mattingly SM, Payne JD. Psychophysiological arousal at encoding leads to reduced reactivity but enhanced emotional memory following sleep. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2014 Oct; 114:155-64. PMID: 24952130.
    Citations: 24     Fields:    Translation:Humans
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Funded by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences through its Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program, grant number UL1TR002541.